Last January 13, seven other teachers and I accompanied 103 of our high school students to the first ever Ignatian Youth Camp in the Ateneo de Manila High School grounds. The kids were hyped up and excited; we chaperones, not so much. We knew we’d have our hands full making sure everybody was safe and okay and just basically THERE and not missing, so we weren’t as ecstatic as the kids, but we DID look forward to the opportunity to get to know our counterparts from different schools.
The idea of the camp is to have students from the different Jesuit-run schools in the country come together for a 4-day camp that would be full of bonding and skill-enriching activities. While there were a few organizational things I found issue with (I was pretty anal about these things), the whole camp generally ran smoothly, and the kids loved the idea of meeting new people and learning with their new set of friends. Friendships were formed, Facebook/Twitter/Instagram usernames and cell numbers were exchanged, and gazillions of selfies were taken during those days.
As a chaperone, it was easy to nitpick which things could have been done better, but that’s not to say that I’m not grateful for the experience. I loved the concept of the youth camp. I loved the venue–sprawling grounds and stately trees and fresh air in the midst of a polluted urban jungle. I loved the teachers who were with me, both XSN colleagues and new friends. I loved the energy and dedication of our student facilitators. I loved seeing the normally shy kids hang out with new people. I loved seeing smiles on everybody’s faces. I loved how the students, in all their excitement, went on and on and on and on about their new friends and their crushes (but of course!) and what they did. I loved our house supervisors and how they were so helpful and proactive (we were the only house with a makeshift photobooth complete with funny hats and props).
It was, quite candidly, A-MA-ZING.
Yes, the whole experience was exhausting especially that last night when most of us decided to just stay up and wait for the clock to hit 4am when we had to vacate the sleeping quarters and then go back home to Nuvali.
But would I join another one as a chaperone?